When one Whiteland Elementary School student saw a need at his school, he started a push for his classmates to get involved.

Now, half of the student body has followed his lead and joined a club meant to get kids involved with the community.

The new after-school club, Souls 2 Serve, was first imagined at the end of the last school year when then-second-grader Ian Lewis approached a teacher with concerns he had about students who come from families in need.

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“He has a heart for students who don’t have a lot of nice things. He knows he’s a privileged student and wanted to be able to help other kids,” said Nikki Pollert, a special education assistant at Whiteland Elementary.

Last year, during a charity event, students got stuffed animals as rewards for reaching fundraising goals. Lewis noticed a child who hadn’t gotten to the required benchmark to get the prize. To help, he went home and made phone calls, asking donors to give to the charity so that his classmate could also get a stuffed animal.

“It just speaks a lot about his character. He’s very kind but kind of quiet. He just really saw a need for someone to step in,” Pollert said.

Now, Lewis is one of five students on a leadership council for Souls 2 Serve, which has 170 students — about half the student body — participating.

This week, the club completed its first project showing gratitude to the Whiteland Police Department. Students stayed after school to make a banner, cookies and cards. They then walked two blocks to the police station to present officers with the gifts.

Souls 2 Serve will do a new service learning project every month. The one they’re working on now is a shoe drive, collecting new or gently used shoes that will be given to needy families in the school district.

“In school, we talk with students about how learning to be a good human being now will only make you stronger. (Lewis) embodies that entire philosophy,” Pollert said.

Pollert was astonished to discover that half the school wanted to join the club, but it shows the values of the community, she said.

“I really think that parents ultimately want to teach their children how to serve others,” Pollert said. “Sometimes, I don’t think they have the avenue to do so, so any time this kind of opportunity presents itself, I think people want that for their children.”

Anna Herkamp is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at aherkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2712.